My column in the New York Times eXaminer is titled "The Gospel According to Gutting -- Is Confusing." It's a response to a Times op-ed post by philosopher Gary Gutting. I usually find Gutting informative, but this time he was way off the mark. The NYTX front page is here. You can contribute here.
Quote of the Day. People ask me, ‘Why don’t you guys get together?’ And I say, ‘Exactly how much would you expect me to cooperate with Michele Bachmann?’ And they say, ‘Are you saying they’re all Michele Bachmann?’ And my answer is, ‘No, they’re not all Michele Bachmann. Half of them are Michele Bachmann. The other half are afraid of losing a primary to Michele Bachmann.’ -- Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
Annie Lowrey of the New York Times: "Some of the same spoilers that interrupted the recovery in 2010 and 2011 have emerged again, raising fears that the winter's economic strength might dissipate in the spring."
Evan McMorris-Santoro of TPM: the NRA deleted the Ted Nugent videos from their Website yesterday, in advance of Nugent's meeting with the Secret Service about his incendiary comments. CW: I doubt the NRA has gone all sensitive; they probably just don't want the Secret Service hauling them in for disseminating this crap.
Melissa Russo of NBC New York: a Marist College student pollster calls 911 & saves the life of a woman he phoned who was going into diabetic shock when she picked up the phone.
The Presidential Race
It is kinda ironic given that [Mitt Romney's] family came from a polygamy commune in Mexico, but then he’d have to talk about his family coming from a polygamy commune in Mexico, given the gender discrepancy. Women are not great fans of polygamy, 86 percent were not great fans of polygamy. I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico. -- Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-Montana), agreeing with a remark by Daily Beast reporter Ben Jacobs
Attacking a candidate's religion is out of bounds, and our campaign will not engage in it, and we don't think others should either. -- Lis Smith, Obama campaign spokesperson
Noam Scheiber of The New Republic on Team Obama's hardball tactics: "... the new ruthlessness is actually a sign of maturity."
Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "It isn't Mitt Romney who's giving Barack Obama fits as the president moves into re-election mode. It's those federal bureaucrats carousing in Las Vegas, the Secret Service consorting with Colombian prostitutes and U.S. soldiers posing with bloody enemy corpses. The scandals are taking a toll. They are distracting embarrassments that are dominating public attention while Obama seeks to focus on difficulties abroad and jobs at home. And they are giving Republicans an opportunity to question his competence and leadership, an opening for Romney in a race so close that any advantage might make a difference."
Jed Lewison of Daily Kos: The latest New York Times/CBS poll shows that among registered voters, "President Obama's progressive vision of government trumps Mitt Romney's trickle-down philosophy.... According to the poll, voters clearly believe government should be doing more, not less, to strengthen the economy and the middle-class.... Perhaps the answer is that contrary to conventional wisdom, President Obama is the one would benefit from this campaign being about economic ideas, while Mitt Romney is the one who benefits from trivia and distraction.
Nia-Malika Henderson of the Washington Post: "Just a day after President Obama visited this crucial swing state, Mitt Romney spoke at a shuttered drywall company visited four years ago by then-candidate Obama to make the argument that Obama’s record has yet to live up to his lofty rhetoric.... Romney laid the blame for the company’s fate squarely on Obama.... The company actually shut down in June 2008, months before Obama took office....." ...
... Steve Benen: "Asked about this, Eric Etch-A-Sketch Fehrnstrom [Romney's campaign spokesman] said, 'The fact that [the economy] struggled through the last three years is not the fault of Barack Obama's predecessor; it's the fault of this administration and the failure of their policies to really get this economy going again.' This is simply incoherent for anyone who cares about reality."
David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix catches Mitt Romney in a pretty big Red Sox fib. A misstatement about he Sox did in Massachusetts U.S. senatorial candidate Martha Coakley; could Romney's lie affect the presidential election? I doubt it, but Bernstein's analysis of Romney's patterns of lying (Bernstein IDs two) is an interesting read. ...
... AND Yet Another Romney Lie. Juliet Lapidos of the New York Times: Romney & his spokesman Fehrnstrom are telling the press that Romney won't release more than two years of tax returns because that's all Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry released when he ran in 2004. Only that isn't true. Kerry released between seven & ten years of returns. CW: BTW, I think Kerry & his wife Teresa Heinz are richer than the Romneys, so it's not as if Kerry wanted to release his returns (my recollection is that Heinz -- who keeps her income separate from her husband's -- didn't release her returns).
Michael Tomasky in the Daily Beast: Tom "Friedman and Financial Times columnist Sebastian Mallaby, whom Friedman quoted, and others in the center-left orbit they inhabit genuinely seem to believe that if Barack Obama put a bold and comprehensive tax-reform plan on the table, the Republicans would be forced to respond and negotiate in good faith. But this is pure fantasy. All that would happen would be that Obama would cost himself loads of political capital, and the center of gravity on the subject of taxation would again be pushed to the right. That isn’t just bad for Obama, which is a second-order concern; it would be horrible for the country." ...
... CW: Oh, this is heartbreaking. Ned Martel of the Washington Post on Americans Elect, the sleazy operation that is promoting a third-party candidate. "Last week was supposed to be the first week of online voting on the Americans Elect site, when anyone anywhere could click to endorse practiced politicians or to draft neophytes. But the candidate choices have remained decidedly low-profile, and traffic is meager on the site, which cost $9 million to construct. Scrambling to avert failure, Americans Elect has postponed online voting for a month." Martel, BTW, describes Doug Schoen as a "Democratic pollster; that's like describing Karl Rove as a Democratic operative.
Right Wing World *
Maggie Haberman of Politico: "American Crossroads, the pro-Republican super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, and its nonprofit affiliate Crossroads GPS, will announce $100 million raised for both so far through the 2012 cycle...."
* Where who screams loudest wins. -- Akhilleus
New York Times: "The police arrested a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters who were lying on a sidewalk at the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street on Friday afternoon after one demonstrator announced that the law allowed them to do so as a form of political protest."
New York Times: "Concluding that racial bias played a significant factor in the sentencing of a man [Marcus Reymond Robinson] to death [in Fayetteville, North Carolina] 18 years ago, a judge on Friday ordered that the convict’s sentence be reduced to life in prison without parole, the first such decision under North Carolina’s controversial Racial Justice Act."
New York Times: "International pressure for a harsher line on Syria escalated Thursday, with the president of France calling the Syrian leader a liar, the American secretary of state moving a step closer to endorsing use of military force, and the head of the United Nations accusing the Syrian government of failing to carry out nearly every element of a peace plan that went into effect a week ago."
Washington Post: David Randall Chaney, "one of the Secret Service supervisors ousted from the agency this week for their involvement in the Colombia prostitution scandal, made light of his official protective work on his Facebook page, joking about a picture of himself standing watch behind Sarah Palin.... Several people familiar with the matter have identified the other supervisor as Greg Stokes, who was assistant special agent in charge of the K-9 division. Stokes has been notified by agency officials that he will be fired, although he will be given an opportunity to contest the charges...."
... New York Times: "The Secret Service's investigation into alleged misconduct with prostitutes by agency personnel in advance of President Obama’s trip to Colombia last week has been expanded to determine if the misconduct was confined to the 11 employees who were first tied to the scandal, according to a senior American official." ...
... Update: "The director of the Secret Service has told lawmakers that at least two more members of the agency will be dismissed in connection with alleged misconduct with prostitutes in Colombia last week.... The spokesman for the United States Southern Command in Miami released a statement on Friday saying that the military officer in charge of investigating the alleged misconduct is scrutinizing 11 service members -- one more than had previously been disclosed."
New York Times: "A United States helicopter crashed in bad weather in southern Afghanistan on Thursday after it responded to evacuate Afghan police officers wounded in a suicide attack on a police checkpoint, an Afghan official said. Two Afghan officials said the crash killed four Americans. Late on Thursday, however, NATO confirmed only that one of its helicopters had crashed in southern Afghanistan. It said on Friday that its investigation was ongoing, and would not say whether those on board had been killed nor confirm their nationality." ...
ABC News: "A new photograph obtained exclusively by ABC News showing the bloodied back of George Zimmerman's head, which was taken three minutes after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, gives possible credence to his claim that Martin had bashed his head against the concrete as he fought for his life." With video. Linked page links to photo. ...
... AP: George Zimmerman "is asking a Florida judge to let him out of jail while he awaits trial, and legal experts say he stands a good chance of being granted bail at the hearing Friday." ...
... New York Times Update: "Speaking publicly for the first time, George Zimmerman ... briefly took the witness stand at his bail hearing on Friday and apologized to Mr. Martin’s parents." The judge set Zimmerman's bail at $150,000, "considerably lower than the $1 million requested by prosecutors."
NEW. Philadelphia Inquirer: "Complaining that he was blindsided while on church business in the Vatican, the bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va. [Michael J. Bransfield], on Thursday angrily denied trial testimony in Philadelphia alleging that he sexually abused a child during the late 1970s."
AP: "Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik took to the Internet to learn how to carry out a bombing-and-shooting rampage, studying attacks by al-Qaida, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center."
Washington Post: "By noon Friday, Cairo's Tahrir Square ... was packed with Egyptian protesters, promising to be one of the largest demonstrations since the 18-day revolt last year.... The rally was called by liberals to reject the nomination of Mubarak-era figures in the presidential race. But by Friday it had morphed into a rally against the ruling military council and included a cross-section of Egypt's society with differing and competing messages."
CNN: "The U.S. Secret Service said Thursday that it has resolved any questions regarding rocker Ted Nugent, whom its agents interviewed after he said he would be 'dead or in jail' if President Barack Obama were re-elected. 'The issue has been resolved,' and the agency 'does not anticipate any further action,' Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary told CNN after the interview."